Photo by Esther Lim
Adrenaline flowing through their bodies, members of South’s Latino Heat dance as music filled the cafeteria during their rehearsals. This year, their smiles were covered up by masks. Instead of signature partner dances, they must stay six feet apart.
Senior and Co-Captain Juan Gonzalez shared some of the changes they have had to make as a team to deal with Covid-19. Gonzalez described this school year as completely different from the last one.
“Social distancing had to be included in many of our dances, so this year our chacha was not much of a partner dance anymore,” Gonzalez explained.
Latino Heat has managed to remain a team. Gonzalez shared that their key to keeping the same energy as last year is to stay positive.
“We always kept a positive vibe,” Gonzalez said. “We always worked hard at practice. We’re a great team. We always put out a great show every year.”
Gonzalez explained that even in hard times, Latino Heat is still dancing to share their love of Latino culture and music with everyone at South.
“Latino Heat is a great team,” Gonzalez shared, “We show our culture in a meaningful way. We show people what being Latino is all about.”
With complete synchronization of movement and eye-catching choreography, members of Bhangra Beats focus on recreating cultural Indian dance styles. Bhangra Beats has invented brand new dance movements in an effort to highlight, educate and positively influence students at South.
Despite the changes due to Covid-19, such as the mandatory masks or the incorporation of social distancing into the choreography, junior Sneha Augustine, a first-year Bhangra Beats Dancer, expressed that the group’s goals as dancers has not changed.
“I feel like one of our goals since the start of this group would be to influence other people and to help them know what our Indian culture is all about through dance.”
With this goal in mind, the team has continued their journey to foster a greater sense of community among dancers in their group.
“We’ve definitely grown a lot closer because even during [Covid-19 when] we were so far apart, each of the teammates took the initiative to grow closer to other[s],” Augustine said. “I could see that the group was trying to grow closer, we did so by hanging out in between and during practices or while taking breaks.”
Despite the different changes that took place this year as a result of the pandemic, Augustine shared that even though the season was not what she expected it to be, it was valuable nonetheless. She stated that the year was still beneficial by allowing everyone to find a way to be able to dance with each other.
“I actually thought that I wouldn’t be able to dance this year at all because of Covid-19, [but] even the little stuff like when we were social distancing during tech week [for our show] or if we couldn’t get as close, I still thought it was a really great experience to be able to dance with everyone,” Augustine said. “I really enjoyed this year with the team and I wouldn’t change a thing about any of it.”
De la Cru
Hip-hop music blasts as De La Cru sets up to dance at one of the numerous places they have found to practice due to Covid-19 restrictions: parks, outside members’ houses, Zoom meetings or in front of South’s doors. Senior and Team Captain Nikola Marjov has made sure the team continues to dance and stay in touch.
“It’s been very different just because we’ve had to do practices over Zoom, and normally, we’re able to practice pretty much every day after school in the cafeteria, but we’ve gotten that basically taken away this year,” Marjov said.
Not only have they continued to dance, Marjov has made sure De La Cru stays connected through social media.
“I think it’s important we stay connected as a team even though times are hard,” Marjov said. “Right now, it’s important we can all stick together and create an even stronger bond because we have to find creative ways to bond and practice and overall feel like a team.”
For this year, Marjov wanted to focus on how the group can make their year as memorable and their dances the best they can be.
“This is my last year, so I really want to be able to have good dances and make our audience happy and ourselves happy and be proud of the performances that we’ve done, especially in the time that we’ve had,” Marjov said.
Stunning monochromatic costumes, engaging movements and captivating agility: featuring dance styles such as tap, jazz and hip-hop that engage the audience, Orchesis, one of South’s well-established dance clubs, has created a tightly knit community of dancers.
Senior and Co-Captain Grace Cullum gave insight on how Orchesis has continued to dance on despite a difficult season.
“We pretty much had to rely on social media which not everyone has [access to], as well as emailing and trying to recruit freshmen, which is also sometimes a difficult thing to do,” Cullum said. “I will say the numbers were a little bit down but we were able to make it work. Especially with COVID restrictions that almost in a weird way was a blessing to be able to still be able to dance all together since numbers were lower.”
Cullum shared that these challenges have made her more appreciative of having an opportunity to dance and continue to learn more about others in the team.
“I think that Covid-19 hitting this year really changed my perspective on being a dancer and how lucky I have been to grow up being a dancer alongside other people,” Cullum said. “The way that I express myself and what makes me happy has made me grow as a leader because I had to find ways to adapt and get to know other people.”
Senior and Co-Captain Sarah Yagelski explained that even the changes taking place this year, keeping traditions alive was a big part of ensuring that everyone felt safe.
“We used to do group nights where one time we had a movie night last year,” Yagelski said. “We weren’t able to do any of those unfortunately. However, for filming, we have certain traditions that we do before we perform. I think those are the ways we were able to still have some normalcy in Orchesis’ season.”